Performance from this innovative speaker set is nothing short of sensational. It never ceases to amaze us when manufacturers get such a big sound out of small speaker cabinets, but Orb is the latest to achieve such a feat. The sound these speakers produce is obscenely powerful and bursting with energy, and it makes mincemeat of Hellboy II’s DTS HD Master Audio track on Blu-ray.
Hellboy’s battle with the Elemental in chapter 12 is breathtaking – the Mod2s at the front deliver fierce, forthright effects with no harshness or distortion, even when we cranked the Onkyo amp up to Environmental Health-baiting levels, and Johan Krauss’s futile cries are clearly audible as the 50ft tree tears up the city. From tinkling glass to crunched-up cars clattering past the camera, there’s real purpose behind every sound these speakers produce.
On their own, the Mod1s also do a great job as rear channels, conveying subtle detail crisply and creating a surprisingly wide soundstage with their expansive reach. Nowhere is this more evident than during the Troll Market scene – the delicate tapestry of sounds, including winged creatures flitting around, is sparklingly clear and puts you right there among the crowds.
The subwoofer is a force to be reckoned with, offering the sort of wall-shaking bass tones that you expect from a bigger unit. It has power in spades, but it’s also accurate, tight and responsive – the perfect combination.
The Orbs are at home with music too. We fed them Corinne Bailey Rae’s version of Since I’ve Been Loving You and it’s an absolute delight, her voice sounds pure and natural and the double bass is warm and solid. Sublime.
We know it seems like a bit of a punt shipping speakers over from the States – particularly with the hefty fee involved – but if you do you won’t regret it. The unusual design and elegant build quality is unlike anything else we’ve seen at this price, and the fantastic performance is as good if not better than the KEF KHT2005.3 system that bowled us over earlier this year. On the downside, we don’t like the small, fiddly binding post holes, which may cause a problem if you have thick cables, but otherwise this system absolutely deserves to be the People’s Choice.